Good Fruit Grower

April 15

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24 APRIL 15, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER B ack in the 1980s, it was not uncommon to fi nd bundles of old apple box labels lying around in fruit warehouses in Washington State. "We had some in our old packing room, and I didn't think much about it," recalls Bob Price, president of Price Cold Storage and Packing Company in Yakima. But then it occurred to him that maybe he should start collecting them. Characteristically, Price decided that if he was going to do it, he would do it right. Label collecting became his passion and, over the past 30 years, he has amassed thousands of apple labels to form one the largest collections in the country. Washington apple labels date back to the turn of the 20th century when the industry was in its infancy. Apples were packed in wooden boxes with colorful lithographed labels of the brands glued on the sides. The oldest labels are from the Opportunity area near Spokane, where apples were grown before orchards were developed in central Washington, Price said. He has old Perham Fruit Company and Earl Fruit Company labels with Spokane printed on them. There were also orchards in the Hanford area before it became a nuclear reservation. Apple labels were used until the 1950s when wooden bins were introduced for harvesting apples and packers transitioned to cartons. The transition for pears came later, in the 1960s. Price says there are far fewer apple labels in the east- ern United States than in the West because fruit there used to be picked and shipped in baskets without labels. Treasure hunt During the 1980s, numerous Washington packing houses closed or changed hands as the industry con- solidated. Price recalls visiting old warehouses and stumbling across bundles of labels that people were sometimes happy to give away. It was like a treasure hunt. He found Washington Fruit and Produce Company labels glued to a horse barn. At fi rst, he focused on collecting Yakima apple labels, which had a special signifi cance to him because he knew the fruit growing and packing families whose brands were on the labels. "My joy in doing this initially was I knew a lot of peo- ple who were no longer in the fruit business, so I would Apple box label collection is Bob Price has one of the country's largest collections of apple box labels. by Geraldine Warner PACKER'S PASSIO Bob Price, president of Price Cold Storage and Packing Company, has originals of all the company's copy of that. Priceless was one of the company's brand names. Bob Price's large collection includes extremely rare labels that most people have never seen. It was common in the 1930s and 1940s to use imagery, such as Indian and black characters, that would never be used for marketing purposes today.

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